The Supply of Small Arms and Light Weapons to Conflict Zones: The Bane of Onset, Intensity and Duration of Armed Conflict in Africa

Osimen, Goddy Uwa, Rufus Aisedion, Isaac Adi


Small arms fuel violence and intensify human suffering in conflict situations across the globe. The illicit trafficking, proliferation and misuse of small arms have grave impacts on human security, development and human rights. They hamper conflict resolution, peace-building and commercial activities in various parts of the world, affecting the lives of millions. In recent years, attention has come to focus on the ways in which the increased availability of low-cost small arms and light weapons contributes to the likelihood, intensity and duration of armed conflict. This paper has examined the full range of sources of small arms in Africa region. It recognizes the importance of large international transfers in weapons sourcing to conflict zones; at the same time, however, it reinforces lesser-known findings regarding the role of production, government stockpiles, and the so-called ant trade in the fuelling conflict. For more emphasis, the paper is anchored on the combination of three different theories; the theory of relative autonomy of state, conflict theory and failed state theory. In developing a more comprehensive approach to conflict sourcing, the role of politics must not be overlooked. Small arms proliferation is essentially a political issue, as the politically motivated leakages from military stockpiles and state-sponsored transfers in the region. The paper further reveled that government stockpiles is an important source of weapons in many conflict zones, through corruption, theft, seizure, distribution, and sales. In some conflicts, they are even the main source of small arms for all combatants. As observed, in the long run, persistent smaller shipments of small arms can be more significant in terms of volume than occasional large-scale trafficking of guns. Where the ant trade is important, policy responses become more complicated. Therefore, to control brokering, streamlining end-user certificates, and establishing arms embargoes, an effective policy also needs to tackle corruption and make the control of border regions and of the border itself more effective. In addition, policies must be tailored to individual states. While regional and international approaches are useful, their limitations must also be clearly understood.

Keywords: Small Arms, Light Weapons, Proliferation, Arms supply, Armed Conflict, Africa

DOI: 10.7176/IAGS/88-01

Publication date: November 30th 2020

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ISSN (Paper)2224-574X ISSN (Online)2224-8951

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